From one woman to another I ask you: how many handbags do you actually need? Most women would respond by saying they buy a new handbag every season. For women, shopping for handbags has become somewhat of an addiction. But is the time and effort we spend searching for a new bag each season and the (often outrageous) cost of purchase all worth the while?
My shopping addiction
I must confess that there was a time in my life when my love for fashion and bags took me down a dark path to a point where some of my girl friends actually labelled me a compulsive shopper! There is actually a medical term for compulsive shopping – oniomania. Oniomania is the term used by psychologists to describe someone who shops in response to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness or anger. And while I probably didn’t quite shop enough to be medically diagnosed with this disorder, I can definitely relate to the symptoms.
I genuinely used to think I shopped (handbags was my favourite) because I loved fashion, but I’ve come to understand that shopping can easily become an addiction for many women. Shopping is fast becoming a national pastime and with it seems to be an increasing number of compulsive shopping cases being reported. According to Stanford University, more than 90 per cent of oniomania sufferers are women. This is because men and women react differently to low serotonin levels, while men tend to become more aggressive and risk-taking, women turn to behaviours such as binge eating or compulsive shopping.
Shopping as an addiction, my (personal) analysis
I personally believe the most common reason for compulsive shopping is boredom. I have always found that when I don’t have a lot going on in my life, I tend to shop more. From a psychological standpoint, shopping (just like cigarettes and alcohol) can provide a sense of excitement which may be missing in a person’s life.
It’s my experience that many women shop with friends and family members, which often means there is a lot of pressure to impress – and to buy. We often end up buying way too much or we impulse buy things we don’t really need. As we buy more, our friends buy more, and the cycle of fashion consumption continues as we all try and keep up with the latest trends.
Women and body image
For one reason or another – media influence on body image is the first thing that comes to mind – many women have body image issues. A lot of women when they have gained weight or feel bad about their bodies tend to shop in the hopes of finding those ‘magical’ items that will make them feel sexy (I’m definitely guilty of doing this). In short, most women shop for a feeling more than for any actual item. And fortunately (or unfortunately) the handbag is the one fashion item (arguably above any other) that provides a woman with a deep sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
After realising I was shopping for handbags to the point where I was being labelled as having an addiction, I simply stopped. I literally went cold turkey. I now own just four designer handbags and two clutch bags (total of six). I have invested in only six bags because I feel that you don’t need more than one bag for each season, plus two clutch bags for evenings. Six bags is all I need. It works for me and I believe it can work for you too.
Why ‘luxury’ bags are best for your staple bag collection
Many of my bags may be considered by some to be ‘luxury handbags’ that are 'just a label'. But I would disagree by saying that when you buy cheap, you actually buy expensive.
It took some time to find the perfect handbags, you can't impulse buy a designer handbag. You need to know exactly what you want, and if you find it, think about it for a week or two before you purchase it. If you forget about it, then it’s not the bag for you.
My staple handbag collection
- Black Patent Doctors Bag from Longchamp - a French brand predominantly known outside of France for their Le Pliage. I use this bag most days with the exception of when I travelled for work (which was often).
- Gray Patent Shoulder Bag from Coach - bought at the Hawaii outlet for a mere $200 which I used to gladly place under the seat in front of me on the plane.
- Off White Messenger Bag from Furla - Italians know leather! I can wear this across my body or hang it from my arm.
- Simple Black Leather Bag from Coach - Great for everyday use if the Furla one doesn't go with my outfit. I use this in winter sometimes also, depending on my outfit.
By alternating bags every season I always feel like I am getting a new bag at the beginning of each season. You may like more bold, statement bags which can certainly attribute to your collection, but always have one classic bag that you can wear with everything.
- Eggplant Patent Leather Louis Vuitton Clutch - it’s like a pencil case, I use this when I am really dressed up.
- Black Patent Burberry clutch with a wristlet - also like a pencil case but a bit more casual and has a bit of edge to it.
Tips when buying a luxury handbag:
- Make sure it's 100% leather, you would be surprised by the amount of times I have been disappointed!
- Make sure it has four little feet underneath it - it's not a deal breaker but it protects the bottom of the bag.
- For me, the bag must have a zipper (but that just personal).
- Don't just look at mainstream luxury bags that celebrities are carrying, there are other brands you may not have heard of before that have exquisite pieces.
I’ll finish as I started by asking: How many handbags does one woman really need? Comment here and share your thoughts!
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